Lachy MacCorquodale previews the round 13 clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Brisbane Broncos. This is what we have to look forward to.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
After a come-from-behind victory against the St George Illawarra Dragons, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will be ready for revenge after losing to the Brisbane Broncos in round two. Souths trailed 16 points to nil after just 17 minutes last Thursday night, but rallied to take the lead early in the second half thanks to a brilliant performance by Cody Walker. Including this win, the Bunnies have won three of their past five matches, with those losses at the hands of top eight sides the Knights and the Raiders.
The Brisbane Broncos suffered their third loss in a row, throwing away an eight-point lead as they conceded three converted tries in the final 10 minutes against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. It’s been a tough season for the Broncos, having just won one of their past 10 games dating back to the restart of the competition. They are currently sitting in 15th place and are on track for the worst season in the club’s history. If they fail to make the finals, which is looking almost certain, it’ll be just the fourth time this has happened, and the first time since 2013.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Dane Gagai 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Liam Knight 16. Patrick Mago 17 .Keaon Koloamatangi 18. Jack Johns 19. Corey Allan 20. Troy Dargan 21. Kurt Dillon
The Rabbitohs have named an unchanged line-up from their victory over the Dragons.
1. Darius Boyd 2. Richard Kennar 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Xavier Coates 6. Brodie Croft 7. Tom Dearden 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Jr 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Isaac Luke 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Ben Te’o 18. Cory Paix 19. Ethan Bullemor 20. Matthew Lodge 21. Jesse Arthars.
Five-eighth Anthony Milford is out for a month with a hamstring injury, while Brodie Croft returns. In big news for Broncos fans, 20-year-old David Fifita returns for the first time since the resumption of the competition, forcing Joe Ofahengaue to the bench and Ethan Bullemor out of the playing 17.
The Brisbane Broncos have a tremendous record against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, having won 30 of the 44 matches between the two sides. Brisbane have also won eight of the last 10 encounters; however, both those South Sydney wins occurred last season. They met earlier in the season, with the Broncos winning by four points.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Battle of the forward packs
The Brisbane Broncos will finally have their strike weapon David Fifita back after a knee injury kept him out of the game since round two. With Matthew Lodge in the reserves and a chance to play, it could be the first time this season that the Broncos field a full-strength starting forward pack. If X-factor players Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior create chances for the rest of the Broncos side, it could result in plenty of second phase play for players such as Kotoni Staggs and Tom Dearden. Given that it’s the first time Fifita has appeared since the restart of the competition, it’ll be interesting to see his impact on the rest of the team and whether or not his presence can help their performances.
Albeit a less impactful forward pack, the Rabbitohs are still a mobile pack that could cause some problems for the Broncos. Former Bronco Jaydn Su’A is finally starting to fill his boots and is turning into quite the second rower, averaging a career-high 98 run metres per game, whilst also making 28 tackles per game. English prop Thomas Burgess is also having a career-best year, averaging a monster 150 metres per game and has proven to be a big part of the Rabbitohs’ go forward, along with the ever-so-reliable Cameron Murray. The Rabbitohs pack has a big job ahead of them against this big mobile Broncos pack, but given both sides’ recent form it’s hard to go past South Sydney in this one.
Souths by 10.
Date: Friday, 7th August
Venue: ANZ Stadium